After the game Washington State head coach Mike Leach, Connor Halliday, Vince Mayle, and Mitchell Petterson all had press conferences and all gave their opinion on what they thought happened and what needs to happen in order for the Cougars to turn things around.
I know it is only the first game of the season and we still have 11 more games left, but what happened on Thursday night in Seattle was absolutely disappointing.
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Things were supposed to be different this season, we were supposed to go 3-0 heading into the Oregon game and have a chance of College GameDay coming to town. We have one of the hardest schedules in the nation and wins are tough to come by.
This team needs someone to step up when things are not going good. Caleb brought up a good point in his article when he talked about the team needing a leader and it being Halliday. Halliday has the respect of everyone on the team and he is doing all he can in order to gain that respect and trust. In his post game interview Halliday talked about how a drive like that is what makes a legacy. He’s right. That win and finishing out the game gets the rest of the team to believe they can win in that drive. If the Cougars are down 4 to Oregon in a couple of weeks with the final drive coming they easily could have said, “we did it before, we can do it again” but a loss like this has ripple effects.
Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12) throws a pass in the second half against the Colorado State Rams during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cougars 48-45. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
I noticed that in all of the interviews the players kept talking about how they need to be able to finish the game. Halliday in particular was upset with the way everything happened. You could hear it in his voice that he was frustrated. When asked about the offense Halliday responded with “I think we played great offensively… I threw for 532 yards, 5 touchdowns. What more do you want?” He then goes on to talk about how it was just about 40 yards off the school record.
Halliday is right. If you would have told me that he would have had the stat line he did I would have been extremely happy and thought we got away with a win. The game should not have come down to a 4th and 13 pass. The game should have been over long before that. But it did come down to a 4th and 13 and it wasn’t over long before that either.
Vince Mayle, who had himself a great game, said in his press conference “We all want to win, we just have to have the will to win” the difference between the two? “Knowing we are going to win” says Mayle. After catching 12 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown Mayle was also disappointed in what happened.
Things needed to happen on the defensive side of the ball and they didn’t. The Rutgers run game ran all over the defense and it showed. It seemed like RB Paul James was not tackled until the 3rd of 4th Coug got to him. James had 29 carries for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns with 89 of those yards coming in the second quarter alone.
Safety Mitchell Peterson said in his post game interview that the team has things to clean up and that there are little technique things that need to be cleaned up. The Cougars struggled with tackling James and they need to get those things fixed before they get deeper into the schedule. If this type of stuff is still going on in week 4 when the Cougars take on Oregon, there will be absolutely no shot at keeping the game close. Even if Halliday throws for 700 yards on 100 attempts.
When it came to coach Leach’s conference, his response was that the loss was on the coaches. When a reporter asked Leach what his message to the team after the game was, Leach responded with “Put this past us, get better when we practice” Leach goes on to say that Rutgers kept “whipping our defensive line” when it came to why they were running the ball with ease. And that is exactly right. The defensive line really struggled with this one.
Hopefully the Cougars can get things fixed and ready for next week when they head to Nevada to play the Wolf Pack.